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The Act I “Parto, ma tu ben mio,” with a basset-clarinet obbligato written for the composer’s friend Anton Stadler, for whom he had only weeks before created his Clarinet Concerto, K. 622, is a spectacular dramatic scena in which Sesto (a trouser role) agrees to do the bidding of Vitellia,whose love the Roman emperor Tito has spurned. Although Sesto’s own love for Vitellia is unrequited, he plans to carry out her vengeance against Tito. Sesto displays his willingness—to the point of murdering Tito —to gain Vitellia’s love.
Herbert Glass, after serving on the administrative staffs of the New York Philharmonic and the San Francisco Opera, was for 25 years a critic / columnist for the Los Angeles Times. He has also written for the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians and for periodicals in Europe and the United States. He recently completed his 15th season as English-language editor / annotator for the Salzburg Festival.